Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sexual assaults and the Canadian military justice system: early signs of real leadership?

At long last, leadership in action!

Following the release of a rather bland Progress Report on the new Military Sexual Response Centre at National Defence Headquarters, General Jonathan Vance gave a wide-ranging candid interview to laureate journalist Noémi Mercier from Maclean's Magazine.

The contents of his interview focused on the issue of  sexual assault and harassment in the Canadian military in which Vance admits that "He is not satisfied at all with where we are at!

A refreshingly frank exchange from the top

Some of General Vance's admissions are worthy of being repeated here:
I largely agree with you that we can be accused of having complaint mechanisms that sometimes don't work.  I admit we need to do better. And we're trying. . . So Madame Deschamps was right. People that had something to genuinely complain about could find themselves getting brushed off.
I agree that the military justice system needs to evolve, we need to ensure that people are adequately trained. . . . We want to make certain that we have improvements in the way we manage sexual crime. . . The military justice system and the application of it, there are many cases where it appeared and perhaps did wrong. But it doesn't mean that it's inherently wrong.
To the question: Are you open to direct sexual crimes handled by civil society? The CDS responded:
Yes, I am!  So if an individual calls 911 and gets the city police to show up and it goes in a civilian court, I've got no issues with that whatsoever.
Is Vance an agent for change and reforms?

To the question: If the Minister of National Defence or Parliament decided to go ahead and push for some type of reforms, either to civilianize parts of the military justice system or strip it of some of its jurisdiction,  how would you react? The CDS said:
Well if the Minister of Defence or Parliament decides something, I'm there. . .
The military justice system as it sits in Canada is not immune to change. So if there is a concern and we need to change either the National Defence Act or some part of the military justice system to make it better, I want that, . .
Because I am the chain of command . . . I will side with the victims.

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